Thursday, September 02, 2004

Should Conservatives vote for Kerry?

Not long ago, about a week or so, I said to my wife that I was thinking about whether or not I should vote for Kerry. The reason I would consider doing so was because of my great disappointment in Bush as a conservative. Were it not for national security concerns, I might very well do so as a gesture of protest. Her reaction - one of astonishment – I found not surprising. This was heresy! How could I even contemplated such a notion? I expected Thomás de Torquemada to burst through my door at any moment. But then, as in the gospel according to Monty Python, “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

Nor would I ever have expected that Republicans by the drove, including the Prez as well as Senators McCain and Frist, would be so enthusiastically denouncing, condemning and shredding the First Amendment. According to the Washington Times, in an article by James G. Lakely on August 27th, ‘Even as he signed it into law, Mr. Bush acknowledged that McCain-Feingold "does have flaws," the biggest one being that "individual freedom to participate in elections should be expanded, not diminished."’ Hmmm? Then why did this same article report that our fearless leader was instituting a suit to put a stop to these “527” groups? McCain’s position? According to Fox News, McCain spokesman Marshall Wittmann said in a statement that, "Senator McCain enthusiastically applauds President Bush's commitment to ensuring that 527s operate under the same funding rules that apply to federal political candidates.” Oh, really?

On Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader said, “Chris, the other thing is that the candidates, unlike four years ago before the law, right now you don't have their voice. The outside groups have the voice. The candidate no longer can speak. In the past, the money had to go through the party, through the candidate. You knew where it came from, you knew where it was going. Right now we don't know who the outside groups are. We don't know where the information is. And the poor candidates who's out there running — I'm speak[ing] for all the Senate races and the House races — right now are losing their voice under the current law. We need to go after the 527s.”

Now let me see if I have this straight. The politicians have lost their voice. I assume that’s why Dennis Hastert and Bill Frist are on ‘Fox News Sunday’ and I’m not. And we don’t know where the money for the 527’s is coming from and where it’s going. Thus am I forced to also assume that’s why we keep hearing so much about George Soros, and, of course, John O’Neill and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. These outfits are such “shadow groups” that they keep themselves as well hidden as CIA operatives posing for Vanity Fair in Jaguars with their husbands of diplomatic lineage. By the way, asserts that “The Soviets had Pravda. The Republicans have FOX.” Now there’s a thought ripe for rumination.

If Admiral Farragut were today running for political office he would likely be heard exclaiming, “Damn the Constitution! Full screed ahead!” Such is how I see the intellectual level and adherence to principle of the extant political discourse. If George Orwell where alive today I think he would despair at how little improvement there has been in the clarity and directness of political expression. But, alas, it was ever thus! This permeating and corrosive condition does, however, provide his disciple, Christopher Hitchens, with an unfathomably deep well of material that should last him several lifetimes of writing political commentary.

But I digress. My thought remained inchoate until I read a piece by another British ex-pat who so very helpfully fleshed out my skeletal concept. Niall Ferguson is a scholar of renown and exquisite insight. (If he weren’t, why would I invoke him?) In a WSJ op-ed piece - here is inserted the usual ‘subscription required’ caveat – Mr. Ferguson suggests that conservatives might be better served if Mr. Kerry and not Mr. Bush were elected. He draws a parallel with the election in 1992 of John Majors as PM and the damage it did to the Conservative Party that to this day remains unrepaired. Ferguson’s thesis is that if Bush lost the election, conservatives would then be able to regain the controlling levers and forge a resurgence of conservative principle within the Republican Party. This would permit an earlier conservative renaissance than if Bush is re-elected, thereby prolonging the current decline of conservative influence and the concomitant expansion of government spending and encroachment.

A vote for Kerry is conservative? Interesting thought. (Psst! Don’t tell the Democrats.) But whatever it is that bin Laden and his cronies are thinking up is more than just interesting. And there ends my short, cut-rate flight on FTA – that’s Fanciful Thought Airways.


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